Category: Miscellaneous

New Nominations for Rules of Civility

As part of my semesterly “tour of classes” routine, I visited a class today that was discussion George Washington’s Rules of Civility. This was a list of 110 different rules that Washington had copied out by hand (probably from a French translation of those rules) by the time he was sixteen years old. They’re generally guidelines to follow when you want to be polite in public, and they contain things like #10: “When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Crossing them” and #44: “When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.”

As you might expect, a number of them seem far too proper and stuffy for today’s social scene. (Though a number of them definitely still apply.) I was wondering what such a list would consist of today, and thought we might crowdsource it a little. First, what are some nominees from the list that you feel should still be on it today? One that I saw would be #82: “Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Careful to keep your Promise.” I mean, to me that’s just common sense. I always try to under promise and over deliver. I want to make sure people have expectations I can meet or exceed, rather than the other way around. When you lead people to believe you can do more than you’re capable of, it can sour a lot of relationships. And that’s silly, because you’re the one setting yourself up for failure in those conditions. True, someone might be taken in by someone who promises the moon, but sooner or later those promises come due . . .

So that’s my nominee for “rule that should remain.” My nominee for “rule that should be added” would be something that seems pretty obvious to me as well: “Don’t make death threats.”

Seriously, people. I don’t know who’s out there thinking it’s okay to threaten to injure or kill a stranger on the internet, but I do know that people on the left and the right both get these death threats all the time. Has the “anonymous death threat” somehow taken the place of “signal to show I’m really upset and want to make sure you know that”? Because if that’s the case, that needs to stop now.

A bit ago, a movie on Netflix made a big splash for a controversial poster. The film’s about an 11 year old who joins a dance team (or something), and despite it not being about anything really that controversial, Netflix had the “genius” idea to market it as a film about an 11 year old girl twerking competition, with a poster of sexually posed 11 year olds to match. It was a boneheaded marketing stunt, and it caused a large number of people to call for a boycott of Netflix and the movie.

It also, apparently, inspired people to send death threats to the director. Look, this post isn’t defending a movie I’ve never seen and never intend to watch. (Even if it’s not about a twerking dance competition, there’s nothing in that movie that sound remotely like “Bryce would like this.”) But let’s assume it really was a movie about a bunch of tweenagers twerking their hearts out. Definitely not okay, but worthy of a death threat?

Certainly not.

I can’t think of anything that *is* worthy of a death threat, honestly. And yet somehow people are lobbing them around with abandon. No idea how we can get that trend to stop, but I sure do wish it would. Going from “debate” to “death threats” in under 3 seconds isn’t going to do anyone any good.

What would your nominees be?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Picking Out a Puppy

Back when we committed to getting a Golden Retriever, we knew we were getting one dog out of 18 spread over two litters. We knew it would be a male, and we knew we were 17th in line, so we weren’t expecting too much of a decision when it came time to get the actual puppy. What could be so hard about a simple thing like that?

Tuesday afternoon, we got The Call. We could drive over and pick out Ferris Drooler. Suddenly, the decision I’d passed off as easy weeks before seemed much thornier. As we headed over, I began to seriously wonder what, exactly, you look for when “choosing a dog.” After all, it’s not as if we’d chosen any of our children. You get what you’re given. And knowing how much can happen over the course of life, how much of a “good dog” is in the dog in particular, and how much is in how you raise him?

What can I say? It was a very existential drive. When we arrived, I still didn’t have any better idea how we would choose. Are you looking for color? Size? Temperament? “Something in their eyes”? A puppy that looks calm at the moment might only be calm because he was going crazy thirty minutes ago. It seemed like the worst case scenario for me: a decision that might really have long term effects, but which no amount of preparation could get me ready.

When we got there, the breeder made things even more complicated by letting us know there were four puppies we could choose from. “Just take them out back, put them on the ground, and see which one comes right for you,” she suggested. It seemed like great advice. So we took the four squirming bundles of energy to the back yard, I stood a bit of a ways off, and we Released the Hounds.

All four of them came right at me. So much for that advice.

(As a side note, can I say how glad I am that we’re not getting four puppies? Keeping track of all those guys was practically impossible, even with all five of us there. None of them really wanted to be held, and all of them wanted to go exploring in different directions. It was like the baby scene in Raising Arizona.)

Denisa and the kids were all drawn to a smaller, darker furred puppy. I couldn’t tell the difference between any of them (other than color), and so in the end, I made the easiest decision of them all: I let other people decide. We got the smaller one.

In all honesty, I don’t think it really mattered that much. I think we’d have been happy with any of them. If we’d have pulled up and been told, “This is your dog,” the end result would probably be the same.

But I’m very glad I don’t have to pick out a puppy again any time in the future. I can’t take that kind of pressure.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

The Death of a Fridge

Ever since we moved into our house, our fridge has been a constant companion. Always in the background, humming, keeping our food cold and our ice cream frozen, ready to offer a little bit of deliciousness whenever we felt a bit peckish. And like many constants in life, we came to take our fridge for granted. It wasn’t moving anywhere. What other options did it have?

And as the years went by, it began to develop its own little quirks and nuances. It would keep your frozen section frozen, but if you didn’t open and close the freezer door periodically, it would decide maybe you weren’t that interested in ice cream after all, and so it would stop working as well. I don’t know why it did this, and I never really cared to look into the reasons too carefully. I just knew you had to open and shut the freezer door once a day or so.

But that was a red flag. A sign that our relationship with our fridge was waning. If we’d been smart, maybe we would have paid attention and fixed the problem. But let’s be honest. The fridge was never a top of the line model. It was just . . . there. Freezer on the top, fridge down bottom. Brand name? No clue. Mayfairgidaire?

In any case, a month ago, the freezer died completely. A whole tub of ice cream, ruined. All sorts of meat, done for. It started leaking water into the fridge compartment as well, and we knew the Time Had Come. All good relationships end eventually, I suppose. We needed a new fridge.

Except apparently the middle of a pandemic is a bad time to buy major appliances? Scratch that. You can buy the appliances. Companies have no trouble taking your money. But getting those appliances is a different matter. We found a fridge we liked at Lowe’s. We ordered it. As we were ordering, it said it would get here in mid-June (this was back toward the end of May). Fine. Whatever.

Once we’d bought it, they switched the estimation to mid-August. Nice. Even then, we thought we’d be able to last.

Until last week, when the fridge stopped working too. Now the whole thing is basically a cooler with a light in it. We have a back up fridge in the garage from when Denisa used to bake and needed the extra fridge space, but taking a trek to the garage every time I need a glass of milk is a bit much.

What if we ordered a fridge from Lowe’s or Home Depot that was actually in stock? We checked. We tried. No dice. Actually getting a fridge we wanted to get here before the end of August just didn’t seem to be in the cards. Denisa faced the problem head on and started calling local retailers. It took a while, but she finally struck pay dirt.

We now have a fridge coming on Tuesday. One that will even have a working freezer, and might even work without being finicky. (Hope springs eternal.) I will say that having grown accustomed to being able to get anything I want whenever I want it, this pandemic time has been a real eye-opener, reminding me of how it can still be elsewhere, and how it used to be for us.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Mr. Forgetful

There are usual symptoms that come up in my life when I’m reaching the “I’m Overwhelmed” stage of things. My room gets messier. Office gets more cluttered. I run on a shorter fuse. But I’ve started coming across a new sign that hasn’t come up in my life before.

I’m losing track of time.

Not in an “I thought it was noon, but it’s actually 2pm” sort of way. That’s happened to me all the time. No, I mean in an “I can’t honestly remember what day of the week it is.” Is it Monday? Friday? Am I supposed to be excited that it’s the end of the week, or dreading the week to come?

It’s not just the days of the week, either. There have been multiple times the last month or two when I’ve forgotten what season I’m in. Maybe that’s normal when you live in a place with seasons that blend together, but I’m in Maine. In autumn. You just have to glance out the window for a second to see a gorgeous display of changing leaves that only happens once a year. Still, the other day I was on my way to Bangor for another meeting, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember what time of the year it was. Spring? Winter? Summer? It didn’t occur to me to look out the window.

It’s not like this quandary went on for a long time, but it was a good couple of minutes. Sort of like when you’re looking for your sunglasses and then finally find them on your head, but on a more cosmic scale.

These days, I just rely on my calendar for everything. I try to shut out everything but what’s on my schedule right there in front of me. I know I’ve booked things in a way that I can get all the things done that need doing. As long as I don’t think about them all, then I don’t feel too overwhelmed.

I just don’t remember when I am.

Does that happen to anyone else, or is it just me?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Death of a Pet

Yesterday when she went to feed the degus, DC noticed one of them had collapsed. Shadow wasn’t breathing much, and he wasn’t moving at all. I came home from a trip to Bangor to assess the situation. Was there a vet we could take him to? How did things look? But it didn’t take much examination to know he was in a pretty bad spot.

When we woke up this morning, Shadow had died.

When we bought the degus seven years and a half years ago, we did it fully aware that they typically live six to eight years. That seemed like a long time at the time, but here we are. Tomas was eight when we bought them. A year later, we discovered Shadow and Shooting Star weren’t two boys, but a boy and a girl, and we had baby degus that followed. (We solved that problem soon after.) Reading over those posts reminds me of how much fun we had with them over the years. I’d completely forgotten DC had named the baby degus (including the one who’d crawled up my sleeve and into my shirt, who was dubbed “Mischip,” because DC had trouble saying “Mischief”).

These days, they’re much more DC’s pets than they are Tomas’s. She was very distraught to see one in such pain. It all came to light after MC had already gone to bed, so MC found out this morning. Sad times all around.

We won’t be getting a replacement degu. We still have Shooting Star left, and we’ll take good care of her, even if she might be a bit lonely. Losing pets is never easy. I remember each of the ones I’ve lost over the years. Just because they’re smaller doesn’t mean it has any less of an impact. I do think it’s important to go through the process, though. To learn how to deal with loss. (Of course, when we bought the degus, I didn’t suspect my kids would have to deal with the loss of a grandparent long before they dealt with the loss of a degu . . . )

In any case, it was a pretty somber mood around my house this morning. Believe it or not, I have a pretty soft spot for pets. (My original dream job was to own a pet store, back in the day. That never materialized somehow . . . ) We’ll have to pick out a good spot for Shadow to be buried. Maybe someplace with a good view, where Shooting Star can see him.

Good-bye, Shadow. You’ll be missed.

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